Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cells can read damaged DNA without missing a beat

10.02.2010
Scientists have shown that cells' DNA-reading machinery can skim through certain kinds of damaged DNA without skipping any letters in the genetic "text." The studies, performed in bacteria, suggest a new mechanism that can allow bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics.

The results were published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The senior author is Paul Doetsch, PhD, professor of biochemistry and radiation oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and associate director for basic research at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

Working with Doetsch, graduate student Cheryl Clauson examined the ability of RNA polymerase (the enzyme that transcribes, or makes RNA from DNA) to handle damaged DNA templates.

RNA polymerase reads one strand of the double helix and assembles RNA that is complementary to that strand. In test tube experiments, when the enzyme comes to a gap or a blank space, it keeps reading but leaves out letters across from the damaged stretch. In contrast, in cells, RNA polymerase puts a random letter (preferring A) across from the gap.

"We were surprised to find that the transcription machinery rolls right over the damaged portion," Doetsch says. "This shows that if the cell initiates, but doesn't complete repair, it still can lead to mutagenesis."

Clauson says a challenge in planning her experiments was finding a way to sensitively detect when RNA polymerase reads through DNA damage.

She loaded damaged DNA into a gene that encodes an enzyme from fireflies, which generates light-emitting chemicals, and then introduced that gene into bacteria. A full working enzyme is produced only if RNA polymerase bypasses the DNA damage without skipping any letters.

DNA in every type of cell, whether bacterial, plant or animal, is constantly being damaged by heat, oxygen and radiation. In addition, all cells make RNA from some of their genes to produce proteins and carry out their normal functions. Cells periodically copy their DNA before dividing, but only if conditions are right for them to grow.

The experiments were performed in bacteria with mutations disabling some forms of DNA repair, Clauson says.

"This situation may resemble one where something like radiation or a mutagenic chemical has overwhelmed the normal repair mechanisms," she says.

In addition, Clauson used an antibiotic called novobiocin to shut down DNA replication in the bacteria. She says this simulates a more challenging environment when cells are not growing quickly.

"Our ability to see transcriptional mutagenesis in growth-limiting conditions is important," Doetsch says. "Out in the environment, bacteria are not constantly surrounded by the rich mix of nutrients we give them in the lab."

"Because this work hints at a simple mechanism by which bacteria could escape from growth-restricted environments, it has important implications for how pathogenic microorganisms may acquire resistance to antibiotics," he adds. The next phase of these studies for Doetsch and colleagues will be to test whether transcriptional mutagenesis can lead directly to antibiotic resistance in bacteria and other microorganisms.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Reference:

C.L. Clauson, K.J. Oestreich, J.W. Austin and P.W. Doetsch. Abasic sites and strand breaks in DNA cause transcriptional mutagenesis in Escherichia coli. PNAS Early Edition (2010)

The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children's Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has $2.3 billion in operating expenses, 18,000 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,500 students and trainees, and a $5.7 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

Learn more about Emory's health sciences: http://emoryhealthblog.com - @emoryhealthsci (Twitter) - http://emoryhealthsciences.org

Vince Dollard | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://emoryhealthsciences.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>